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Judge rules whether Trump is 'immune' from lawsuit from 'Apprentice' contestant

A Manhattan judge said that President Donald Trump would have to face the lawsuit from Summer Zervos, a former "Apprentice" contestant, claiming defamation over accusations of sexual harassment. (Image Source: YouTube screenshot composite)

A New York judge ruled Tuesday on the argument from President Donald Trump's lawyers that he was immune from a lawsuit by a former "Apprentice" contestant accusing him of defamation, because of his position as the president of the United States.

Here's what she said:

“No one is above the law,” said Judge Jennifer G. Schecter, citing a precedent set by a lawsuit involving former President Bill Clinton.

Schecter said that she would not be dismissing the lawsuit by Summer Zervos, the former "Apprentice" contestant, who was suing for defamation because Trump called her a liar when she said that he had groped her and "pressed his private parts against hers back."

“Immunities are grounded in the nature of the function performed, not the identity of the actor who performed it," the judge said in her ruling.

“Nothing in the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution even suggests that the President cannot be called to account before a state court for wrongful conduct that bears no relationship to any federal executive responsibility," she continued.

"Significantly, when unofficial conduct is at issue, there is no risk that a state will improperly encroach upon powers given to the federal government by interfering with the manner in which the President performs federal functions," she concluded.

She quoted from Clinton v. Jones, where it was found that a president could be sued if the accusations had nothing to do with his official presidential duties.

'False smears for personal fame'

Trump had absolutely denied the accusations from Zervos during a campaign rally.

These allegations are 100% false. They are made up, they never happened. It’s not hard to find a small handful of people willing to make false smears for personal fame, who knows, maybe for financial reasons, political purposes, or for the simple reason they want to stop our movement. They want to stop our campaign. Very simple. These claims defy reason, truth, logic, common sense. They’re made without supporting witnesses. No witnesses. Hey, you know, 28 years ago, 10 years ago, 14 years ago, 12 years ago. Not me. Believe me. Not me. Not me.

Zervos had said she had gone public with her accusations because it “was ethically the right thing to do, so that the public could evaluate Mr. Trump fully as a candidate for president.”

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